HR 252: Genocide resolution left off floor debate, but House reconvenes

HR 252: Genocide resolution left off floor debate, but House reconvenes

The US House of Representatives did not include HR 252 – the Armenian Genocide resolution – on its agenda on Tuesday in what was thought might be its final day of session. However, the House has been called to reconvene again today (December 22 – approximately 7 p.m. Armenia time), extending the possibility that the controversial resolution might be heard again before the current House yields to a new (Republican) majority next month.

Meanwhile, supporters of the resolution – led most vocally in the States by the Armenian National Congress of America (ANCA) – are watching for any sign that might gauge White House temperament on the issue.

Concerns arose over comments made by President Barrack Obama in an interview with Turkish daily Hurriyet on Sunday, when the president said that America’s relationship with Turkey “is more important than ever”. Obama went on to say that the US embraces Turkey within its fold of allies, despite Washington-Ankara differences on key Middle East issues, including Turkey’s fellowship with Iran and its contention with Israel.

Then, yesterday, Armenian-Americans tracking news from Capitol Hill were, by default, rallied to hear that the White House was not taking a pro-active stance toward blocking HR 252 from reaching the floor.

Asbarez, the media arm of ANCA reported that the current White House position may be seen as “the most indifferent response from any administration on the Armenian Genocide Resolution” -- a reaction to comments made by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

Gibbs told reporters in his Tuesday briefing that: “I do not know that the President — I do not believe that the President has made any calls specifically on this, and I think his views on this are known,” indicating that Obama had not taken measures to stop House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from putting 252 on the docket.

While “indifference” may not be the response sought by either Armenian or Turkish lobbyists, it nonetheless spins toward a positive reaction for American Armenians who in the past have been disappointed by Oval Office phone calls essentially extinguishing any spark of hope that such a resolution might pass.

And so again today it is expected that thousands of emails and phone calls will be placed to US House of Representative members (of which there are 435) at the encouragement of ANCA, the Armenian Assembly of America, and others, as the push for recognition continues its long battle against familiar and formidable odds.

Also on Tuesday, patrons of the resolution (which has 140 cosigners) – representing districts with considerable Armenian-American voters – sent a letter to their congressional colleagues, urging to pass HR252.

“In adopting this measure, the U.S. House will be acting in accord with our long and proud tradition of condemning and commemorating genocides, including, of course, House resolutions on the Holocaust, and also the Ukraine, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur genocides. In each of these cases, Congress did not legislate history, but reaffirmed our nation’s moral stand against all genocides,” stated the letter.

A counter letter was sent to Pelosi by congresspersons who oppose 252, citing national interests:

“In what may be the last day of the 111th session of Congress, bringing up H. Res. 252 would run counter to U.S. interests. The resolution also has the potential to undermine our national security interests throughout the Caucasus, Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia.”

While it appears impossible to predict from outside whether 252 will reach the floor, observers may monitor all House of Representative debate at: